Hundreds of students demonstrated as every Tuesday in Algiers, chanting slogans hostile to the army’s chief of staff, a strong man of the country, while the judicial offensive against influential businessmen is accelerating.
The students gathered at the Martyrs’ Square in central Algiers before marching to the Great Post Office, the epicentre of the protest since February 22, which led to the resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on April 2.
“The army and the people are brothers but Gaïd Salah is with the traitors,” chanted the demonstrators, while security forces have been deployed in large numbers in the centre of the capital.
The army’s chief of staff, General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, warned on Tuesday against any transition outside the constitutional framework and stated that any person hostile to the army was an “enemy of Algeria”.
Supported for 15 years by the deposed president, General Gaïd Salah was criticised for his rejection of the demands of the protest, which called for the establishment of ad hoc institutions to reform Algeria, draft a new constitution and organise a presidential election.
The demonstrators also waved signs that read: “Against the political-financial mafia” or “The people want the nationalization of thieves “.
In recent days, the justice system has stepped up its actions against personalities linked to the Bouteflika clan.
A dozen influential businessmen close to the deposed president and former senior officials, including two former prime ministers, were recently remanded in custody in connection with investigations into corruption.
“Before any trial, the magistrates should first be released,” says Sara, 19, a student at Bab Ezzouar University of Science (east of Algiers), refusing “any dialogue with the military”.
A banner of the demonstrators indicated “No dialogue or election with (Abdelkader) Bensalah and (Noureddine) Bedoui”, respectively interim Head of State and Prime Minister.
The Constitutional Council cancelled the presidential election initially scheduled for 4 July – as demanded by the demonstrators – which was to allow the election of a successor to Mr. Bouteflika.
Before any vote, the protest demands the departure from power of Bouteflika’s followers including Bensalah.